Trustees approve tuition increase, meet with new working groups

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 3/23/16 12:26pm

The Board of Trustees approved a 3.8 percent total increase in undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees and room and board for the 2016-2017 academic year at its March 5 weekend meeting, making the total cost of attendance next year $66,174. The trustees also discussed campus issues of diversity and inclusion, meeting with members of the three new diversity working groups on staff, faculty and students.

Tuition will increase by 3.9 percent, jumping to $49,998 from this year’s $48,120.

Up from $63,744 for the 2015-2016 academic year, this amount does not include indirect costs of attendance such as books, health insurance and travel. First-year students are also required to pay an additional $390 in room charges and fees.

Tuition at the Geisel School of Medicine will increase to $59, 463, up 3 percent. Tuck School of Business tuition jumps by 3.4 percent to $66,390.

The Board approved the $988 million 2017 fiscal year operating budget and an $83 million capital budget to fund projects such as investing in Geisel, rebuilding the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and renovating the Hood Museum of Art.

Chair of the Board of Trustees Bill Helman said that the main purpose of the tuition decisions was the affordability of Dartmouth in general, particularly given the costs of higher education.

In a June 2014 press meeting with The Valley News and in a fall 2013 faculty meeting, College President Phil Hanlon pledged to keep future tuition increases to no greater than 1 percent above the rate of inflation measured by employment cost indices. In an interview after his appointment as College president with The New York Times, Hanlon also warned of the unsustainability of superinflationary tuition increases.

The 2015 calendar year United States inflation rate was 1.4 percent. In 2014 and 2015, the increase in College tuition has been the smallest since 1977 at 2.9 percent both years.

Vice president for communications Justin Anderson wrote in a statement to The Dartmouth that Hanlon remains committed toslowing the growth of the cost of a Dartmouth education.

“Heagreed to go above the 2.9 percent increases of the last two years only to enhance funding for important student initiatives,” Anderson wrote.

New student initiatives include the residential house system as well as the diversity and inclusion working groups, which the trustees focused on during their meeting, including during a reception with members of the working groups.

The College announced the members of the student, staff and faculty members on March 8. The student and staff working groups have 17 members each while the faculty group has 15 members. The working groups themselves and the chairs were announced in early February.

Vice provost for academic initiatives Denise Anthony is the chair of the faculty working group, Dean of the College Rebecca Biron and vice provost for student affairs Inge-Lise Ameer are the student working group co-chairs, and director of talent acquisition Ahmed Mohammed is the staff working group chair.

Anthony said that hearing the board’s commitment improving diversity and inclusivity was encouraging. She noted the importance of remembering that the goal of the groups is to help create “an inclusive community where people are all participants in the life of the institution.”

“We are committed to not just producing another report,” Anthony said. “The groups hope to look at what has been recommended multiple times in the past and compare these to what actions have been undertaken since.”

The working groups will report their findings to an executive committee comprised of Hanlon, College Provost Carolyn Dever, vice president of institutional diversity and equity Evelynn Ellis, and executive vice president Rick Mills. The committee will then develop a plan to improve inclusivity and diversity at the College by the end of the spring and share this plan with the trustees.

Steve Lubrano Tu ’87, assistant dean of administration at Tuck and a member of the staff working group, wrote in a statement to The Dartmouth he hopes that the committees can bring the culture of community and inclusiveness he felt as a Tuck student to everyone at the College.

Jon Diakanwa ’16, president of the College branch of the NAACP and of the faculty diversity working group, said that he felt the reception with the Board of Trustees went well, and that the trustees seem to be paying more attention to issues of diversity and inclusion than they have in the past.

Diakanwa said he is both “hopeful and skeptical” about the working groups. While he is skeptical about the recommendations being implemented, he said he feels these working groups are meant to be more transparent, noting the launch of a new website on the groups.

Mohammed said that the staff working group received over 100 applications and nominations. To choose members, the selection committee focused on including a diverse range of perspectives, he said.

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in a statement that everyone who expressed an interest in participating in a working group would have the opportunity to share feedback before the executive committee finalizes its recommendations in the spring.

“I think we have the right types of voices in the room, but it’s still up to students to continue to make their voices heard,” Diakanwa said.